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U23s coach Rob Edwards to leave Wolves to join the FA

Wolves Under-23 head coach Rob Edwards is leaving the club to join the Football Association in a coaching role.

Former Wolves winger Mark Kennedy, who has been assisting Edwards and Sean Parrish with coaching the Under-23s this season, has been appointed as caretaker coach during the search for a successor.

Edwards, 36, leaves after his third spell at Molineux, firstly as a player who made 110 appearances as a versatile defender from 2004-08, before returning to the club in various coaching roles sandwiching a year in charge of AFC Telford United.

He becomes the second member of staff to swap Compton Park for St Georges Park after former head of medical Steve Kemp in April 2016, while one-time Wolves youth coach and first-team coach Keith Downing has been with the FA for over four years and is currently England Under-19s coach after initially leading the national Under-20 side for 13 months.

Telford-born former Wales international Edwards also played for Blackpool and Barnsley after starting his career with Aston Villa, returning to Wolves in 2014 as an Academy coach, taking over the Under-18s.

His only season in charge saw the club promoted, which led to him being promoted to first-team coach under Kenny Jackett in the summer of 2015. After a brief stint as interim first-team head coach, Edwards remained at the club as a first-team coach under Paul Lambert.

Edwards spent a year as manager of AFC Telford United before returning to Wolves in July 2018 to lead the Under-23s, taking over from current Head of Academy Scott Sellars, taking them to the Premier League 2 Division 2 title last season. He leaves the club with them in seventh place after seven games in the top tier.

Wolves’ sporting director Kevin Thelwell said: “Whilst it is always disappointing to lose such a talented coach and highly valued member of our backroom staff, we’re proud that Rob has been offered such a prestigious role at the FA to help develop the best young talent in the country.

We’ve been delighted with the work Rob has done, not only with the Under-23s and last season’s fantastic PL2 Division 2 title-winning campaign, but with the whole professional phase of the Academy, following his return to the club.

We would all like to wish Rob the very best in his new venture and thank him for his considerable contribution to Wolves and to the Academy.

We will now be look to identify a suitable successor who has the hunger, vision and drive to lead our Under-23s during one of the most exciting periods in the club’s history.”

Edwards said the decision to step down was a very difficult one. He added: “I’ve had so many roles at Wolves during different stages of my career, that I feel like it’s my club now. I love this club, but this is the right time and the right opportunity to take.

I must thank all the staff and players I have worked with at Wolves; Jeff Shi (chairman) for giving me the opportunity to come back to the club, Sean for putting up with me as my assistant, and especially Kev Thelwell, Gareth Prosser and Scott Sellars, who all played key roles in the six years I’ve been here as a coach.

Scott oversaw the Under-21s when I first joined Wolves as Under-18 coach and was a person who I could really learn from and lean on.

Kev then gave me the opportunity to be interim head coach, and I will be forever grateful for what was the proudest moment of my career – leading the team out at Molineux against Derby County.

I wish the club all the best going forward in what I know will be a very successful future.”

Edwards leaves on a positive note, after an Under-21s side beat Morecambe 5-4 on penalties away in the Leasing.com Trophy after a 2-2 draw on Tuesday night.